Saturday, January 24, 2009

In This Storm

Does God ever bombard you like He does me?


In the space of 48 hours, He brought across my path:


1) Bible study lesson about joy vs. happiness.
2) Comment from friend about joy as natural benefit derived from motivation of honoring God.
3) Devotional about happiness.
4) Email from friend about not letting fibro rob my joy.
5) Kids' school lesson about God's desire to make His children happy.
6) Quote in classic novel about happiness.


You get the picture.


So, yesterday morning, it occurred to me to pray, "Okay, Abba, obviously You're trying to tell me something. :)"


I could almost hear God chuckle.


"So...do I do a study on joy?"


No. Just have some. :)


And I understood. It's a fruit of the Spirit. It doesn't need to be intellectualized. It's a gift, given to me. Embrace it.


Uh...okay. I'll just...start being happier then...


Yesterday over dinner, I tried to articulate all of this to Jeff with a confused frown on my face. Totally contrary to my usually bubbly demeanor when I've had a God-epiphany. Hmmm...so...not so joyful about being more joyful...


But God was faithful to give me a little test so I would fully understand what He was trying to impress upon my bewildered heart.


He allowed pain. New, different, severe.


Well, you see, I overdid it yesterday. In the morning, I sat on a wooden dining chair for about three hours, having a great time walloping my dear friend at cards. (Don't feel bad, Rebecca. Next time, we'll just grab a pillow for my rumpus. And I'm sure your winning streak is right around the corner.)


In the evening, Jeff and I dropped the boys off at a birthday party, and then walked across a large parking lot in very cold weather, to enjoy an unexpected dinner for two (over which I solemnly explained my findings on joy). And then an hour later, we walked back across the giant parking lot, in slightly colder weather, that seeped right into my bones.


And then I stood for another hour, arms laden with kid shoes, coats and party favors, waiting for my family to spend all their tokens, cash in all their tickets, and claim their oh-so-precious cheap, plastic toy prizes.


After we got home and tucked the boys in bed, Jeff and I sat down to watch a movie together.


And then the pain hit. It radiated from my hip sockets, burned the muscles in my legs, throbbed incessantly beneath my knee caps. I couldn't sit. I couldn't stand. I couldn't lie down.


After two hours of misery, I hobbled to bed, desperate for some relief from the pain. Jeff stayed close by, comforting and praying. Hot tears squeezed out from under my eyelids and tricked into my ears.


"Is this the kind of thing I'm supposed to find joy in?" I asked.


"Yes," came my gentle husband's reply. Then, miraculously, he began to quote the song which had already been running through my head:


I was sure by now
God, You would have reached down
And wiped my tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again
I say amen
And it's still raining


But as the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
"I'm with you..."
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away


I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
Every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You've never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm


The lyrics from this Casting Crowns song brought comfort I couldn't explain. Nothing had changed. My physical pain was still there. But somehow, the knowledge of the presence of God eclipsed my circumstances, making them a mere shadow in the light of His glory.


And I fell asleep in peace.


And joy.